The Morning Jolt


The Atlantic Hurricane Season Grows Worse

Today making the click-through worthwhile: Hurricanes are hammering the Atlantic basin, the latest New York state government boondoggle arrives in the small town of Jamestown, N.Y., and the state of modern journalism.

No Way, Jose

Hurricane Harvey looks like just the beginning of the Atlantic basin’s worries, as tropical storm Jose has been upgraded to a hurricane, joining Hurricane Katia and Hurricane Irma. Irma poses the most immediate threat to the Caribbean and the U.S. — as the most powerful storm in the Atlantic basin’s recorded history, it has already claimed eleven lives and damaged 95 percent of structures in Barbuda.

Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida early Sunday morning, and Florida governor Rick Scott and Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez have begun preparations for one of the worst storms to ever face Miami. Scott has deployed the National Guard, and an evacuation order from Gimenez for Miami-Dade County went into effect today at 7:00 a.m.

The evacuation orders are the largest since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, and came as Miami-Dade was the regional holdout in not instructing at least some residents to flee in advance of the storm. Broward issued its evacuation orders for coastal areas on Wednesday morning and said 14 shelters would be opening. On Tuesday, Monroe County ordered residents and tourists to begin leaving Wednesday. . . . 

In all, about 150,000 people are covered by the order.

Mayor Gimenez stressed that if Miami-Dade residents plan on leaving, they must leave quickly, to avoid the disastrous effects of gridlock evacuation traffic.

Boondoggle in the Boondocks

New York governor Andrew Cuomo is planning on building a comedy museum in Jamestown, N.Y., which is six and a half hours from New York City and four from Pittsburgh. The price tag? Only $50 million.

Jamestown? It’s a place of “empty storefronts and underused buildings,” according to the New York Times. . . .  Home to some 31,000 souls, it doesn’t exactly scream “arts capital.” There’s a reason the most popular museums tend to be concentrated in cities rather than scattered randomly in rural areas, hamlets, and deserted islands: One museum, especially one small museum, isn’t usually enough to make tourists to go much out of their way. Especially a museum that proposes to offer stuff few want to see in the first place.

Cuomo selected Jamestown because it is the birthplace of Lucille Ball, a widely recognized comic — but for a style that had mostly disappeared by the late 1970s. By comparing the proposed comedy museum to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., which is four hours away from Manhattan, proponents of the museum have suggested it will enjoy similar attendance.

But why would people flock to Jamestown for comedy? As Kyle Smith reports for NRO, the museum would need upwards of 114,000 visitors to be profitable with tickets costing $20 each. Cuomo has a lot of faith in his project: He said last month that he believes it will be a national attraction.

Let’s look at what else he believes: He avers that the project could create “scores” of jobs, according to the New York Times. Wow, scores? As in, maybe 40? Most of them presumably in such areas as custodial work, gift-shop attendant, and ticket-sales clerk, with a handful of cushy “curator” gigs steered toward reducing by two or three society’s surplus of holders of Ph.D.s in “culture studies”? If 40 jobs result, that’s $250,000 Cuomo is spending per job.

What the comedy museum will really be is a monument to the New York government’s notorious over-spending. Now that I would drive six hours to see.

When Opinions Become Facts

Writing for NRO, Johnathan S. Tobin explores how authors of fake news stories still believe the facts are true, despite clear evidence that they were not. The phenomenon goes back to 2004’s CBS News story claiming George W. Bush was a frequent no-show during his time in the National Guard. CBS’s Dan Rather was quickly fired upon the network’s discovery that many of the documents used as evidence had been forged. To this day, however, Rather believes he was correct.

His conviction that Bush was lying and needed to be taken down was greater than his duty as a journalist to report facts rather than arguments. . . . 

While Rather’s conduct seemed to illustrate the traditional liberal bias of the mainstream media, his exit from CBS was also seen as an object lesson of what happens when journalists let their political opinions get the better of their professional judgment. But though his conduct was viewed, perhaps incorrectly, as an outlier in 2004, by 2017 such attitudes are now very much mainstream.

Many of today’s journalists believe facts are secondary to convictions and beliefs. Take the Russia collusion “investigation” into Trump. James Comey testified during his Senate hearing that the foundation for the media’s case at the time, a New York Times article suggesting Trump’s campaign had colluded with Russians [right?], was found to be factually untrue. “Have you found any evidence of collusion?” “Not at this time,” Comey replied. Yet journalists remain undeterred.

Smith concludes by observing that the line between opinion and fact has been blurred in today’s journalism, which leads to opinions being considered as facts.

But while opinion is one thing – even on shows where there is no longer a semblance of balance with respect to the voices arrayed against Trump — letting that same spirit insinuate itself into investigative reporting is quite another. Groupthink in which negative stories about Trump are assumed to be true until proven false and even then are allowed to linger in the public imagination (such as the claim that a wave of bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers was inspired by Trump even though the crime was the work of a disturbed Israeli teenager).

ADDENDA: A Texas woman slipped out of her handcuffs and stole the police car she was being held in yesterday. She then led police on a 20-mile pursuit, reaching speeds of nearly 100 mph. The video’s quite incredible.


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